Refugee from Karen State, Burma, now living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
At the time I was teaching children in the local temple. My parents were poor farmers and couldn’t pay for my education so the monks helped me. They sent me secretly to a girls’ school because girls weren’t allowed to go outside and learn. The soldiers didn’t want me to teach in the village as they didn’t want too many people getting together and discussing things. I didn’t know anything about the Karen National Army (KNA). I wasn’t interested in politics. All I wanted to do was teach people – I wasn’t for or against the government.
The soldiers came to my house looking for me but my father told them he didn’t know where I was. They searched the house but I ran away and as I ran I heard them shoot. Later I heard that my father and mother had been killed. I decided I had to run away – I didn’t have a choice.
I walked for three days over the mountains. Villagers near the Thai-Burma border helped me to get to the border. At the border I met Thai Karen people who helped me to get to the refugee community here.
I’ve been here for three months now but I’m very unhappy because I keep on thinking about my people. I can’t go where I want to go because I don’t have any legal documents – I only have a community card. I never thought I was going to be a refugee – some of the refugees here are very poor.
I was lucky – I was given a chance to learn. Most people don’t have any education because they can’t afford to go to school. I would like to help people back home but for now I can’t go back.